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Bucs' Gerald McCoy signs 7-year extension up to $98M

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In the middle of their lost season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a wise move toward tomorrow.

The team announced on Saturday that star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy signed a seven-year extension. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the pact is worth up to $98 million with a base of $95.2 million and $51.5 million in guarantees, according to a source who has seen the contract.

The deal keeps McCoy under contract in Tampa through 2021 and -- for now -- maintains him as the league's highest-paid defensive tackle.

It's a massive amount of money for a player set to anchor Tampa's defense for years to come. Rapoport was told that McCoy and the Bucs exchanged countless proposals, working tirelessly on the extension since before training camp. Both sides wanted this to happen.

The All-Pro behemoth has played at dominant levels in 2014, serving as a week-to-week headache for foes as one of the NFL's premier interior pass-rushers. Drafted third overall by the Bucs in 2010, McCoy also looms as a formidable run-stopper who requires the attention of multiple blockers.

With two sacks and nine hurries on the year, McCoy -- who missed two games with a broken hand -- ranks as the league's top defensive tackle after seven weeks of play, per Pro Football Focus. He also topped their rankings last season, while earning the site's second-highest grade at his position since 2008. In short, a quarterback's nightmare.

"From the moment Lovie and I arrived here, we knew it was vital for us to keep Gerald in Tampa Bay long-term as one of the cornerstones of our franchise," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement from the team. "... We are happy to reward someone that has a rare work ethic, which not only makes him an elite player, but serves as an example for our entire team."

Outside of J.J. Watt -- who inked an eight-year, $100 million contract with the Texans last month -- McCoy arguably has been the league's premier defensive force of late and looms as the clear-cut cornerstone for coach Lovie Smith to build his Tampa defense around.

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